Lack of Leadership At Our School Is The Problem

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When I ran for the school board in 2020 I learned a great deal about our community. I learned that people deeply care about what happens at Roger Rowe. I learned that the namesake of our school was a true leader, and our current lack of leadership has left a gaping hole. We are adrift at sea with no clear shoreline in sight. Where are headed? In an effort to find our way, we have council after council followed by meeting after meeting where we explore feelings only to gather ideas that go nowhere. It is not that difficult to craft the mission statement of a K-8 school. Within our walls are classrooms; in those classrooms are teachers and students. Our mission is to educate them. These young, malleable minds are eager to learn. Are we ready to teach them? Will they be prepared for the challenges of high school? Will they know the likes of Hemingway and Shakespeare? Not every decision requires a consensus; if that were even possible. It is time for things to change at our beloved school.

This is not about test scores, although it would be nice to be more sure about how we are doing. Statistics and data are easily manipulated so let’s move past that and really dissect what is happening at Roger Rowe. I am one board member, and this is one point of view, but it is formed by the hours of phone calls I have received over the past two years. Calls from parents who are at their wits end because of our lack of discipline, structure, and standards. Our playground, when it is monitored, seems to have its fair share of aggressors. Our response to that is to sit idly by doing the bare minimum while we wait for the “big one.” We have had opportunities to tighten our policies, or we could just follow them, but like so many other issues, no decisions are made. I never knew the hitting and pushing of classmates was so riddled with confusion. Parents with children who require special education are just as befuddled. Why is it so difficult to get services? Why does it seem that our plan is to exhaust the parents who advocate for their child with the hope they will give up? We have an expensive lock system put in place to ensure a safe campus yet day after day doors are left unlocked or propped open. Why? There are never any answers. Our administrative team either denies these things or simply doesn’t care, and both are unacceptable. This is today’s Roger Rowe. We have become apathetic. Even with the herculean task of our doors being open through Covid we could not sustain the affection we gained. Family after family still chose to leave, not because they don’t think the school is beautiful, or because it is not convenient, it is a gem in the heart of a lovely town, but because we can’t seem to find our way to excellence. Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. Excellence is the result of high standards. It is the result of convictions, and convictions cannot be determined by consensus. We need to listen to our community, but we also need to act.   

It has taken years to get here, and the fault does not rest with only our current leaders, but one thing is certain, it is not the fault of the students. They look to the adults for guidance. Are we really that unsure as to how to lead them? Our current board has bright, talented, and thoughtful people, but we are ineffective. We put off decisions that should have been made yesterday. Maybe we have time to waste, but do we want to rob the students of their time? Time is our most precious gift. I am one person on a five person board, and I cannot excuse myself. I have a duty to keep trying to get this right. That is why I am voicing my concerns. 

Roger Rowe would be disappointed to see what the school is now. I know he was not perfect, but he knew what it meant to lead, even those who disagreed with him followed because he earned their respect. I know this because I’ve asked many who knew him what he was like. They said he loved the kids, and knew every child’s name. They said he was strict and disciplined. They said he understood the value of tradition. They said was a patriot who loved and served this country. They said he said, “schools should not save money, but spend it on the students.” Whenever I pass his picture I think about what he hoped for when they put his name on the school. It is not easy to be a school board member, especially in divisive times, but it is an honor to serve. What does it mean to be an Eagle? Roger Rowe could answer that, can we?